Mike Moon: Safety first will be the order of the day as punters face a challenging afternoon at the Vaal on Tuesday. Sean Tarry is often the go-to guy in such a situation.
Among the champion trainer’s handful of promising candidates on the Inside track, La Bastide stands out as the most likely winner in Race 6, a FM 82 Handicap over 1400m. The filly is a possible exotic-bet banker on a card that calls for going wide.
Following a debut victory in September 2017, the daughter of Dan De Lago ran consistently well against some very useful opposition. Her only disappointing showing was in a strong feature on soft ground over a distance that might have been a stretch for her at that stage of her career.
Making her third outing after a four-month rest, she looks ready to notch her second win. S’manga Khumalo got to know La Bastide in her last effort when she kept on well to grab third place over this course and distance at a higher level.
In that race she finished ahead of five of the runners she faces here and there is little to suggest that any of them can turn that form around.
Spring Breeze, a length behind La Bastide on that occasion, might again provide the stoutest challenge, while Maple Syrup, a further 1.60 lengths adrift, should be third in the procession once again.
Three fillies with talent – Eleni, Invincible Lady and La Roquette – are making a return to the track after short holidays and have the ability to snatch the honours if they are racing fit.
Eleni, who has not been out of the first three in her six outings and looks well above average, could be boxed with La Bastide, Spring Breeze and Maple Syrup in a Quartet. Highly regarded one-time winner Invincible Lady can go into the mix, too.
A few other Tarry horses must be included in wager combinations earlier on the card.
Two-year-olds Saints Alive, from Tarry, and Laduree, from the Mike and Adam Azzie yard, look more progressive than their elders in the second on the card, a Maiden Plate for fillies and mares over 1400m. They make an appealing Swinger bet.
Race 4, a MR 72 over 2000m, sees Tarry and leading jockey Lyle Hewitson going for a hat-trick with Mighty and Magic, a filly who has clearly enjoyed recent stamina tests.
Tarry doesn’t have a runner in the top-rated event, Race 7, a MR 93 contest over 1200m, so punters must venture out of the champion’s shadow. Those with big pockets will opt for the 11-horse field in exotic permutations, while five picks are perhaps a minimum.
If one feels daring, Australian import Nautic Spirit should give a run for money as a Win bet.